Vol 3.9 "Ham Sandwich" 9-20-04

Dear Friends,

HAM SANDWICH
By Fred Cuellar

‘You can indict a ham sandwich!’ I overheard a lawyer friend of mine yell
into his cell phone before hanging up. Being in my twenties (this was a while
ago); it was the first time I had heard this expression. When I asked what it
meant, he told me it’s a famous quote from former New York Court of Appeals
Judge Sol Wachter in 1985. The exact quote is, ‘Any prosecutor who wanted to
could indict a ham sandwich!’ The reason: a prosecutor is allowed to present
evidence (true or not) to a grand jury to convince them of a defendant’s guilt
even when they know that evidence won’t be admissible during the trial. And,
of course, everything the ‘ham sandwich’ would say could be held against it.

While the unfairness of it all started to sink in (poor Boar’s Head Honey
Glazed ham; poor Wonder bread and poor Hellmann’s mayonnaise'”three food items
hanging around together at the wrong time), it didn’t take long to dispense
the clever saying into a never-ending landfill of injustices in this world.

Fast forward: Two weeks ago, I finally got the physical that my wife had been
begging me to get for the last few years. You see, I have this rule: ‘Don’t
visit the doctor if you’re not feeling sick. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix
it.’ But my wife had a lot of good questions that I didn’t have answers to.
What is my cholesterol? What is my blood pressure? Why don’t I work out
more? Etc., etc. To appease my wife (she saved my life), I went to visit a
top notch internist in Houston, Texas, Dr. Don Gardner. When I called to set
up the appointment I was surprised at how many months in advance these guys
are booked up. But, in the end, another delay sounded good and I could at
least tell my wife I had made an appointment. As I went about my business
time flew by, until it was the night before my lab work was to be done. I was
instructed to not eat anything twelve hours before my testing’¦not even a ham
sandwich.

After the phlebotomist (the one who sticks you with a needle and draws the
blood), LaShawn McCardell, was done (took only 5 minutes), I was on my way
back to work. So far, so good. My actual meeting with the doctor wasn’t for
three days so they could get the test results back from the lab. The day my
life changed was August 26, 2004. Dr. Gardner walked into the examining room
where I was with my wife and said, ‘Mr. Cuellar, may I be frank with
you?’ ‘You can call yourself whatever you like,’ I replied. No
laughter. ‘Sure, Doc.’ ‘Mr. Cuellar, you’re fat.’ Wow! Bam! Right to the
solar plexus. I didn’t even see it coming. Certainly there was a more
technical way of putting it. Maybe ‘weight challenged’ or ‘body impaired,’
but ‘fat’ hurt. ‘Mr. Cuellar, your cholesterol is 210, your blood pressure is
132/93 and you have a fatty liver.’ Come on, Doc, calling me fat is one
thing, but now you’re picking on my liver? Pick on someone your own size. (I
kept those thoughts to myself.) ‘Well, Frank,’ (no response, tough
crowd), ‘What do I need to do?’ ‘You need to change your
lifestyle.’ ‘I don’t have a lifestyle. I just work, eat, sleep and hang out
with the traitor that dragged me in here.’ I pointed at my wife. ‘Well,’ he
said, ‘this traitor just saved your life!’ Hmmm’¦time to be serious. ‘You
need to start exercising.’ ‘Excuse me'”how often?’ ‘Everyday.’ ‘Damn!’ ‘You
need to go on Weight Watchers'”no more than 30 points (1500 calories intake) a
day and you’re going to need to do this for the rest of your life. The first
few days are going to be hell until your stomach gets smaller, but then you’ll
get used to it. I want you back in three weeks to see how you’re doing. I’m
writing you a prescription for your high blood pressure and will probably put
you on a cholesterol pill once we get a handle on your fatty liver.’ Damn,
insults again. ‘Do you understand?’ I understood. The party was over.

That was two weeks, 42 treadmill miles and ten pounds ago. For the first time
in my life, I’m actually enjoying what I eat and losing weight in the
process. Trust me, when your food portions drop by two thirds, you’re not in
a rush to finish your meal. You put down the fork between each bite and savor
every chew, extracting every last bit of flavor that morsel has to offer.
With Weight Watchers, I can still eat whatever I want, just less of it. Who
would have guessed that by eating less food, the flavor would be increased? I
realize now that for most of my life I didn’t respect food. I shoveled it in
until my stomach cried ‘uncle.’ For the first time in my life, I’m actually
tasting my food. I also realize in some sense, by not respecting food, I
wasn’t respecting myself’¦my body.

At the beginning of this article, I quoted former judge, Sol Wachter, when I
wrote that you can indict a ham sandwich, no matter how unfair it seemed.
Well, if I had continued eating those Boar’s Head/Hellmann’s/Wonder Bread
concoctions, I’d probably be dead. And the ham sandwich has a long rap
sheet. Remember Mama Cass from the Mamas and the Papas? She died after
choking on a ham sandwich. I’m sure I wouldn’t have been its last victim,
either.

It’s said everyday in the courts around this land, ‘You could indict a ham
sandwich.’ Well, I’m here to tell you, somebody should.

Talk to you next time,
Fred

The founder and president of Diamond Cutters International, is one of the world’s top diamond experts, as well as a three-time Guinness Book record holder in jewelry design.
Fred The Diamond Guy
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